The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has said that 67 million domestic workers who provide essential care for homes and families suffer violence and harassment, exploitation, coercion, verbal and sexual assaults and sometimes death.
Chief of Inclusive Labour Markets, Labour Relations and Working Conditions at ILO, Philippe Marcadent, in a report pointed out that domestic workers, especially those who live in their employers’ homes, were vulnerable to the menace.
This is coming on the heels of International Day for the Remembrance of Slave Trade and its abolition yesterday, which reminded the world that many women end up being trapped in abusive work situations and in most cases modern forms of slavery.
As a result of this development, governments, employers and workers, as well as individual households, have been urged to ensure protection of domestic workers from all forms of violence and harassment.
She, however, said to date, only 25 countries have ratified the domestic work convention number 189, another 30 have adopted laws and policies extending protection to domestic workers, while only 25 countries have ratified the forced labour protocol.
Marcadent also noted that domestic workers have been organising and leading efforts at achieving decent work, citing instances of two former domestic workers who turned leaders of their organisations, after years of violence and harassment at work.
“As ILO is currently discussing the possible adoption of a new legal instrument on violence and harassment in the work place, domestic workers are stepping up and speaking out.
“Around the world, employees who work in isolation, where nobody is watching, are particularly vulnerable to violence and harassment at work. Domestic workers are just such workers,” she said.
She added that countries should ensure that relevant legislations apply to all workers in all sectors, saying: “This obligation is particularly relevant for domestic workers, as they are not always recognised as workers by national legislations, hence they do not benefit from the same rights and protection as others.”